The Ethics of Industrial Disasters in a Transnational World: The Elusive Quest for Justice and Accountability in Bhopal Author

(s): Ward Morehouse Source: Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Fall 1993), pp. 475-504 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40644786 . Accessed: 08/04/2013 10:00
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18 (1993), 475-504 Alternatives

Disasters The Ethics ofIndustrial in a Transnational World: and The Elusive Quest for Justice in Bhopal Accountability
Ward Morehouse*
The Basic Hypothesis isgenerally ofwhat oftheperpetrator Thisarticle examines thebehavior leak from world's worst the as the industrial disaster gas regarded has been in which Union Carbide'spesticides India, plant Bhopal, look to ofthechemical It seeks calledthe"Hiroshima beyond industry." of behavior. such and for that at remedies prevention tragedy on morals." is "a treatise ofethics definitions thedictionary Among - morals defined as "moral Thispaperis intended tobejustthat being and proper" moralas "right or teachings" and the adjective conduct of rightand wrongin and "concerned withestablishing principles behavior."1 rather than I offer the centralthesisof the paper as hypothesis but rather notbecause I have any doubtsaboutitsveracity theorem because I have notyetexaminedenoughcases to knowhowwidely - onlysome of it it can be applied.But thereis abundantevidence here so as not to the reader's patienceand endurance try presented of the behavior toward thevictims thatUnionCarbideCorporation's immoral. wasessentially Bhopaldisaster I haveyetto comeacrossanyother of a recent and major instance in which the industrial disaster a prevailing involvinglargecorporation toward of the disaster of the behaviorof the perpetrator character has been anydifferent, there are thevictims although varying certainly
♦Council on Internationaland Public Affairs, 777 United Nations Plaza, New York,NY 10017. This is a revisedversionof a paper preparedforthe Second ComparativeScience and CultureConference,Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley,Massachusetts, May 810, 1992. Research for this paper was supported in part by the American Instituteof Indian Studies.

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476

ina Transnational World The Ethics Industrial Disasters of

is generally degrees of immoralbehavior.I suspectthatthishypothesis true of largeinstitutions. Certainlythere are on the face of it all too financialinstitutions manyinstancesof similarbehaviorbymultilateral - forexample,theWorld their toward victims and national governments Bank towardthe oustees fromthe Narmada Dam Projectin India or the US governmenttoward victims of radiation poisoning in the Asian Marshall Islands.2 In a dozen cases from as many different countries,presented to the third session of the Permanent People's Hazards and Human Rights, Tribunalon Industrialand Environmental similar patternsof immoralbehavior were exhibited by perpetrators of these disasters,which ranged frommultinationalcorporationsto government agencies.3 Union Carbide is hardly the only Indeed, in the Bhopal tragedy, bad actor.There is littleredeeming and much that seems to me to of Madhya Pradesh (the be wickedin the behavior of the government state in which Bhopal is located) toward its own citizens. In many less "wicked."These of India is only slightly the government respects, are essentially the conclusions reached by the Permanent People's Tribunal, which,although not a court of law but of public opinion, - something came the closest to givingthe victims their"day in court" have not yetexperienced afteralmost a decade in any theycertainly established court of law in either India or the United States. Having from receivedboth oral and written victims, workers, experts, testimony and others at all three sessions of the tribunal (Yale, Bangkok, and Bhopal), the Bhopal session of the tribunal concluded that "Union Carbide Corporation, its subsidiary,Union Carbide India Ltd., and key officialsof both are clearly guiltyof having caused the world's of India and the worstindustrialdisaster"and that"The Government Governmentof Madhya Pradesh are also clearly guiltyof violating the rightsof the victims, not only under internationalhuman rights law but also under the Indian Constitution."4 I shall concentratehere on Union Carbide because I have had more to observe its behavior somewhatmore closely than that opportunity in the stillunfolding of otheractors,bad or otherwise, Bhopal tragedy. the US Union Carbide on parent of the Corporation By focusing - I also introduce a Indian subsidiary,Union Carbide India Ltd. transnationaldimension: a large US industrialcorporationoperating in another and seemingly distant social and political context. Furthermore, concentrating on one major actor- the ultimate - also enables me to achieve somewhat perpetratorof this disaster greaterfocus in my examination of remedies for and preventionof such immoralbehavior.

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intensity bychemical bothmethyl Until1979. (UCIL). UnionCarbidesetup a smallplantin Bhopalto formulate and herbicides a carbaryl base.Ward Morehouse 477 Industrial Disaster:Â Chronicle The World's Worst Genesis in India go backto thebeginning ofthis UnionCarbide's operations It was one of its there. and highuse ofmanufactured and energy inputs. length relationship Muchcloser to the to be one of several justhappening largeinvestors! I believe. products. UCIL imported (MIC) and alpha isocyanate werereactedin the final from UCC. buttheIndiangovernment ownership in thecase ofUnionCarbidebecause of the waived thisrequirement ofitstechnology and thecompany's presumed potential sophistication for export. batteries. foreign Normally. gas This content downloaded from 203. UCC. when it began marketing products century. In an of British plant companies. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .110. the parentUS subsidiary. UCC has a reputation itsEastern Division.1percent ofUCIL stock. pesticides. will be determined over itsIndiansubsidiary only bytheparent company in a court of ifUCC is compelled. of law. headquartered of havinga relatively of US corporate management amongobservers Theprecise control exercised nature ofthe centralized decisionmaking style. oftheBhopal whomadean on-the-spot trade union officials investigation in April1985and observed and national that"Bhopalworkers tragedy and maintenance unionofficials maintain thateven minor production decisions were madebyHongKong. assembly protected preserve for batterieswas opened in Calcutta. held50.9percent company. theactualcharacter to reveal . Those twochemicals naphthol MIC was theprincipal carbaramate stageofproducing pesticides. . 1924. wasowned byvarious including public havebeen limited to40 percent investors institutions. thebalance of49.that seem ithad an arm's with itsIndiansubsidiary. a Union Carbide'soperationsin India were conductedthrough Union Carbide India Ltd. a rangeof pesticides derivedfrom ofIndia'swholesale for thisinitiative wasthegovernment The impetus characterized embraceof the GreenRevolution agricultural strategy. Otherwise. is thereport ofa delegation ofinternational and Indian mark. as a colonial possession. ofequity in Indiancompanies. Union Carbide manufactured in India. control ofUCIL was exercised byUnionCarbide through Managerial in HongKong.243.21 on Mon.however to maintain fanciful itmay itwillstrive that control. in active India to the veryfewUS companies prior independence to be the was considered because India.which (UCC) had fourteen plants Corporation and other chemicals. financial sector Indianinvestors."5 In 1969. By 1983.

supervisedits engineering. capacity in the of material and used forthe transfer tankto be keptempty tanks.21 on Mon. it.000 gallons. the basic design wouldsuffice.243. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . subsidiary forMIC as a bulk chemical market was the hope thata significant for sale to otherchemicalcompanieswoulddevelopin South and in Asia. deadlygases sleeping This content downloaded from 203. other of the either ofan emergency event involving The ThreeMile Island oftheChemicalIndustry E610erupted. code numbered feet E611. This was the case withCarbide'sMIC production Southeast Carbide used was some MIC where theUnitedStates. in diameter.000 city people. and E619. reserve a was these One of of witha storage 15. plant determined orwhether nominal process bydownstream solely storage. Virginia) Bhopal. spreading rapidly never shall We of over the 800.110. designstage process. by actually only and the balance was sold its own products. feetin lengthand eight As a result. whichprovided requirements. from therailway and barely twokilometers has to be sought An explanation forthe December1984disaster MIC but in the not so muchin Carbide'sdecisionto manufacture into in which it did so.That facility plantto the ofthecity. to a residential ofthecenter north neighborhood adjacent station.feltthatnominalstorage itwasinherently safer. 1984.) substantial the questionof whether a controversy arose regarding "sister" at the so-called was it was for MIC (as required storage capacity West near located in to the one Charleston. UCC.478 World ina Transnational Disasters TheEthics ofIndustrial the Carbideplantin Bhopal to createthe disaster. this decision thetime company motivation The apparent on large-scale andinsisted storage. threetanksmeasuring forty each werebuilt. tank On thenight ofDecember 2. vice-president by at Indian of Carbide's director and subsidiary Corporation managing Indian its overrode theparent wasmade. on the insisted run to UCIL. requirement. Courtin New filedin theFederalDistrict affidavit the to According Carbide Union of the a retired Edward York Munoz. E610. storage larger procedures in that was preferable on the otherhand. (Carbideclaimsthatitwas pressured manner India's of in the MIC policy government Bhopal by manufacturing their to"indigenize" ofurging bymaking production companies foreign themand in India rather than importing moreof the intermediates at of the end the or product assembling mixing components simply the At the finalstageof the production itself. thatleakedfrom to manufacture its own facility commissioned In 1979the company was locatedin the existing MIC in Bhopal. in making downstream in bulkto other chemical companies. and defined operating of the plant.

storage quantities would have eliminated the possibility a "merchant of developing market" forMIC in India and other Asiancountries. conservative some 2. surely of nottomention the environment.Ward Morehouse 479 knowthe precisenumber thatdied on thatfateful but some night.7 that would Other including companies. flawedDesign and Construction The dominanceof economicover social performance criteriais manifest from the conceptual of the and stages planning designing in we As have the US noted.000-gallon storing thatwerefavored containers and individual by its Indian managers havebeenmuch lessdangerous.with deathtollnowhas risento morethan4. thecompany's bottom performance.243.6 sincethedisaster to happen. inwhich either there is no MIC storage orstorage "closed-loop" systems in muchsmaller for such immediate use.manufacturing MIC notonlyfor itsownuse butalso for industrial customers.the Carbidemanagement profit optedto maximize with minimize loss.8 of itsworkers The damning recordof willful of the safety neglect in andthesurrounding to maximize Carbide's desire community profits costs goes on and on. ormore a month from rateoffifty theofficial causes.110. It was a disaster waiting Bhopal was not an accident. and in any "civilized" musttake precedenceoverconventional social orderhumansafety criteria ofeconomic line. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .Where occurred there were choices thereverse Butexactly and to be made.used Mitsubishi Bayerin Germany.and DuPontin Texas. As we also have noted. to die at the themassive tragedy). in Japan. management in Asia the profitable line of businessit had in hoped to duplicate other theUS. It is also a textbook failure to meeteven the most case of corporate These standards minimalstandards of propersocial performance. including in Bhopal. Outright killing physical protection of people is a crimeeverywhere in theworld. specifically management and insisted on the wishesof Carbide'sIndian subsidiary overrode in in MIC than tanks rather the small large 15. pesticide facility Bhopal. The safetysystems were by minimizing and could not have contained a of reaction underdesigned runaway This content downloaded from 203. even thoughtheyknewthattheywereplaying innocent people'slives.apparently victims are continuing Atanyrate.so that gas-related .000. However. include avoidance of destruction of human life and well-being.000 deaths government's figuresacknowledge thoseforwhom deathcertificates were thedisaster (essentially during a smallminority of thosethatactually died during issued. estimates Even the Indian place the death toll as high as 10.000 morehaving died thanin it.21 on Mon.

DangerousOperation Notonlyin the designand construction of the plantbut also in its the Carbide of even the most record of shameful operation. One suchsystem.21 on Mon.or shouldhave been known if the and itsengineers13 management Carbideplantweregoing and use sucha highly to manufacture. of responsible social performance minimalstandards to MIC should be stored at zero Although liquid degreescentigrade at tanks of a runaway the minimize the possibility reaction. designated already Union Carbide insistedon buildingthe acutelyhazardous MIC UnionCarbide andstorage unit atan existing facility upwind production a heavily from of the The majorreasonfor section populated city. were MIC and its reaction reaction. which wassupposed to "neutralize" Atthe anyescapinggases. capacity. ButtheMIC in thecase of a pressure-generating expansion tankin Bhopal was filledto 75-87 percent Furthermore. heightof the runaway products thescrubber at more than200times itscapacity!9 flowing through . spraysystem. that the vent scrubber and the flare any gases gas escaped through to did nothave enoughwater reach the tower.And.a device thatwas supposedto "burn off any The flaretower system. couldhave they compound and been corrected.16 thattankwas supposedto be a backupintended onlyforemergency in thecase of a runaway transfers in twootherneighboring reaction This content downloaded from 203. Although unpopulated city Bhopal had an industrial for as area hazardous been facilities. neglect was evident.110.12 were knownto the Carbide . the flaretower tohandlesucha hugevolume ofescaping inBhopal.14 in the operation of the MIC unit thiswas thatsubstantial economies and wouldbe possiblebecause it could drawon the infrastructure oftheexisting common services facility. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . unit wasbeingused elsewhere at theplant!15 refrigeration fill manualsstatethatthe maximum Union Carbide'soperations for to allow room tanks is 50 MIC for percent storage permitted reaction. storage were atambient theBhopalplant the because temperature refrigeration The freongas in the unit for the tank had been disconnected. highest pressure point All of these conditions of emission. manufacturing operation pesticide withcostEven the plantlocationwas dictated by a preoccupation an site the of outside cutting.ofcourse.11 gasesas occurred which was the water to supposed deal with Finally. toxic and unstable as MIC. store.480 TheEthics Disasters ina Transnational World ofIndustrial MIC in suchlargestorage tanks. but only at an increasedcost of construction in of the facility Bhopal.was theventgas scrubber.243.10 escapinggases was not equipped witha backupignition wouldnot have had the capacity Even if it had one.

21 a sent from the United team 1982 by at UnionCarbide'sBhopalPlant Accidents Table1. • Plantoperator Mohammed Ashraf was killedby a phosgenegas Twoother workers wereinjured. system panel April • On thenight of October5.18 forthesafety callousdisregard A similar ofUnionCarbide's record is of its workers and the surrounding and well-being community Between in thecompany's and procedures. leakon December 26.20 in the wereknown to seniorCarbidemanagement These problems United States and cannot be blamed. onlyafter a lossofaboutRs 6 crores ($5 million). on its Indian subsidiary. To top it trained to handle theirresponsibilities.21 on Mon. between lifeand deathforseveral • In August.and manycould read only Hindi. reflected personnel policies thework crewforthe MIC unitwas cutin half. a chemical receivedburnsover30 percent engineer ofhisbodyfrom MIC. personnel plantoperating languageforthem. theirnative language. werenot properly in a few available manuals were off.from 1980and 1984. to one worker • The alpha-naphthol storagearea had a huge fireon November in which was controlled ten hours. Indeed.110. the management had been with serious accidents involving long plagued Bhopal plant and at leastone death(see Table 1). 1978. supervisor positionhad been on dutyat the timeof the disaster. valveand seriously affected four people This content downloaded from 203. Previous • In 1976. The maintenance six to twoworkers.19 the workshift eliminated from was also adversely affected The qualityof plantpersonnel by high in theMIC unit in keypositions workers and several ratesofturnover. operating was a it could read some foreign English. as the US-based Carbide has triedto do. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and the maintenance crewwas reducedfrom twelve to six workers.1981.243. Although only English.it resulted 24. accidents attheplant five serious workers resulting reported in blindness and chemical burnsto another. • Another in caused leak 1982 twenty-eight persons January phosgene to struggle months. liquid • Threeelectrical on wereseverely burnedwhileworking operators on a control 1982.17 storage and not section of pipe had been removed occurred because a faulty replaced. isocyanate escaped from methyl Several a broken workers. These accidents severeinjuries audit in to the US management and led to a safety werereported States. 1982. 22.Ward Morehouse 481 was inoperative whenthe leak Even the flaretower tanks.

" Had the warningsin the reportbeen heeded. Despite the safetyaudit having described both "major" and "less serious" concerns with the plant. the corporation never. and then only because US CongressmanHenryWaxmanreleased it. The internalcompany reportwas not made public until after the Bhopal leak had occurred. it seems almostas thoughthe luckyones were those who died immediately afterbeing exposed to the deadly gases from and psychological. The findingsof the report released in September 1984 warned plant managers that a runawayreaction could occur.because the Bhopal plant was losing moneyand the marketfor the pesticides it was producinghad not developed as Carbide at firsthoped it would. bothphysical This content downloaded from 203. storage sampling frequent disaster could have been averted. In July 1984. therewas no such simplechange in procedures. in Bhopal (includingmore and the suggestedactionplans implemented for of tanks perhaps the Bhopal impurities). Two similarincidentswere breathing also reportedin 1983. affairs. Instead.safety. But the crowning piece of evidence is that. according to Carbide's "a simplechange and environmental director of health. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . In Bhopal. the US managementhad decided to dismantlethe plant in India and relocate fourof the units.22 The US managementalso set overall corporatepolicywithinwhich its Indian subsidiary was supposed to operate. survey. theUnion Carbideplant.21 on Mon.110. in operating procedures completely eliminated the concern and eliminated the need for extensive changes in the equipment" in Institute. Union Carbide had actually been warned of the possibilityof a runawayreaction involvingan MIC storage tank three months prior to the Bhopal leak.23 UCIL managementand therefore resistancefrom The MountingHuman Toll For some victims.the chairmanand chiefexecutiveofficer Carbide at the timeof the disaster. The plan met with strong was aborted. to Mexico or Indonesia. audit of the MIC II unit there. did littleto see that steps recommendedin Carbide unfortunately the 1982 safetyaudit to correctthese problems were taken.conducted a safety and health inspectorsin Institute. Union Carbide operational safety WestVirginia.482 World ina Transnational Disasters TheEthics Industrial of living in nearby colonies also experienced burning eyes and troubledue to the exposure.including the MIC unit. as far as can be conducteda formalfollow-up determined. ofUnion Warren Anderson.243. But Union Carbide did not even send the reportto the Bhopal plant. respondedthatthe reportdescribed a "worstcase scenario.The suffering.

victims of the surviving more often victims have the for their and suffering. many dangerous rarely have to MIC of and other effects the destroyed gases exposure people.24 of the Carbide victims affected Indeed. sympathy help and abuse. theseclaimsto determine said thatitwas screening the under was But as that suddenly way. totally disaster.21 on Mon. able to sustain butthey are no longer vigorous physical claims than600. In thepast. a widerangeof diseasesendemicamongpoor people in India. of the victims. needs in the Indeed. Atleastas alarming as yet classofvictims to themfarmoresusceptible immune to thevictims' leaving systems. government just process getting with UnionCarbide of$470million settlement toan out-of-court agreed in February 1989.25 evidenceto support buthas notrevealed which werevalid. thannotbeen subjected harassment. thatthe majorimpactof MIC on human It was initially thought Bothofthesevitalorgansindeed was on their and eyes lungs.110.Ward Morehouse 483 Insteadof has been intenseand protracted.almostall of the seriously who havea choice is those are The leak explanation simple: poor. charges 1989settlement.theIndiangovernment the because losses are for economic of these Carbide. beings of thoseexposedto the in of thousands tens wereseriously damaged much to indicate is new medical evidence and ominous surfacing gas. The government itsclaim. suchas thekidney. It was subsequently upheldin October1991by which thecriminal also reinstated theIndianSupreme Court. those health-careand monitoring estimated to cost at least $600 millionoverthe next conservatively This content downloaded from 203. that werequashedbytheFebruary UnionCarbideto evade anymeaningful allowing Quite apartfrom for the world'sworstindustrial accountability havingperpetrated settlement unfortunate this is. mutation affecting ofdamage is evidence unborn. they ability effort. challenged by a new government. Many against weeks after for several economic lifeof the cityessentially stopped arespurious has asserted that most oftheseclaims Carbide thedisaster.Othervitalorgans threats moreseriouslong-term as have and liver havealso been damaged. to humanhealth.itis noteven inadequate meeting of the sufficient to meetthe needs forhealthcare and monitoring to from estimated 200. worked as casuallaborers. gas For ofthese industrial of a downwind live plant. on the face of it. to neglect. and was That settlement publicindignation widespread provoked and in victim court by ultimately immediately groups.000 gas-exposed population (variously needs have been persons).000 500. their to earna living. of is also evidence of women. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . There thereproductive genetic systems a new thuscreating theoffspring ofthoseexposed. such as tuberculosis.000 more hasregistered In all.243. spleen.

traumathatvictimshave experienced. of the victims such as vocational rehabilitation.and decent housing.28 preparationof future disaster is wellworth industrial worst the world's with examining dealing in terms of the capacity of large corporations to evade serious accountabilityfor their actions when those actions are harmfulto others.110.27 thatit was Carbide's pesticideplant that But it mustbe remembered in the firstplace and Carbide is. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .and national governments claimed to have done much but in Union Carbide. perhaps above all else. That theirneeds have been largelyignored foralmost a decade in India and of is the faultof local. adequate health sanitation.Indeed. While claimingto have made has been cynicaland self-serving.484 World ina Transnational Disasters Industrial TheEthics of were used for If the entire amount of the settlement thirty years. victims numerousoffersto help the victimsthat were spurned by the Indian view thatCarbide's principal it ignoresthe government's government.let alone cash compensation for all of theirpain and suffering. The governments facthave done little.theyhave soughtnot only cash housingand improved compensationbut also vocational rehabilitation.243. caused all of this human suffering Carbide's therefore. Thus to those it harmed but to evading accountability in achievingthelatter farat least. such as the on themedicalconditionsofthevictims insistenceon detailedreporting as a means of Carbide's acquiring evidence to use in its defense in the eventof a trialin the courts.ithas been all too successful objective. Carbide's response on "damage limitation" to the Bhopal disasterhas become the subjectof discussion and study at business schools at leading universitieswhere crisis management is considered to be an importantelement in the curriculumin the Carbide's performancein corporatemanagers.21 on Mon. environmental sanitation. Union Carbide's response to Bhopal has followedtwo interrelated This content downloaded from 203. EvasionofAccountability Carbide's behavior in puttingprofitconsiderationsahead of human led to this massive disaster. once it realized the enormityof the disasterithad created. and emotional economicdeprivation. performancetoward the ultimately responsible.26 left forothervitalneeds therewouldbe nothing health-care monitoring. For all ofthephysicalsuffering. state. environmental and.adopted a mode of "crisismanagement"focused to the corporation. The Carbide management. offersalways came with unacceptable stringsattached. care. life and well-beingclearlyand inevitably and its behavior since the disasterhas been dedicated not to justice for its actions.

110.)29 In the Federal District fees in connection Courtin where NewYork. The companyhas soughtto delay both ofrelief andjusticeto thevictims whilepostponing provision anylegal it.21 on Mon.Union Carbideswitched itsargument. The questionof due processprovedto be an extremely potent Damocles which Carbide andits ofIndianandUS lawyers sword.The Federal ofthevictims be sent District Courtin NewYork. ithas mounted a vigorous judgments against public relations whichhas claimedmoralresponsibility forthe campaign. towhich Carbide deleted the word court "minimal" district as the decision. variousactionsbrought the bylawyers representing ofall ofthevictims claimants andbythegovernment ofIndiaon behalf wereconsolidated. matters. appealed well as the requirement thatCarbidebe subject to US judicial rules This content downloaded from 203. With court the decision to the Supreme supreme uphold February and 1989settlement UnionCarbideas "full offinancial claimsagainst never it appearsthatthere willbe a trialto determine final. ForumDodging:How CarbidePlacedItself theLaw Beyond to avoid Carbideand itshigh-priced efforts lawyers began withtheir a USjurytrial theclaims over the and victims their survivors brought by behavior." liability forthisterrible thatthe issue arisesin disaster. harmwascausedtothevictims. thecriminal itsIndiansubsidiary. of$50 million on legal withBhopal. platoon used to tryto intimidate of the Indian courtsand the government Indiaas thesolelegalrepresentative in India.by its againstthe company negligent in theneighborhood has spent ownadmission. officials ofbothcompanies. more a and shifted the to India. exceptto the extent ofCarbide. forgrossly (Carbide.Ward Morehouse 485 tactics:delay and denial.243. denying anyother type such as liability or responsibility forthe actionsof its subsidiary.30 ofdue process" The US Court ofAppeals. As indicated thecorporation has also attempted todeny that serious above. andvarious prosecutions ifthosecharges are in fact tried. whenordering thatthe litigation to India fortrial.In themeantime. than up year litigation Once thecase was in India. Virtually rights even on minor decisionof the trialcourt. disaster whilesimultaneously ofresponsibility. Itclaimed theIndiancourts wereno longer and the company's capable of due processwerebeingviolatedtimeand again.not but even to Indian was appealed to the State Court the just High Court. that to Union Carbide must specified agree accept oftheIndian courts "minimal thejurisdiction requirements provided weremet. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . every procedural . the company werenot arguedthatthe US courts forthetrialand thatIndian courts werequiteable theproper forum todealwith suchmassive andcomplex chewed Thismaneuver litigation.

486 ina Transnational World TheEthics Disasters Industrial of of discovery in the Indian courts. or Vidimizer Union Carbideas Victim As if these maneuvers were not enough to evade some meaningful for the world's "moral responsibility" fulfillment of its often-claimed Union Carbide engaged in another deceitful worstindustrialdisaster. maneuver by claiming that the gas leak fromits pesticide plant was caused by"sabotage" bya disgruntled employee. recognizingthe inherentinjusticeof a legal battlein whichone partywithdeep pocketscan outlastthe other.it would force the governmentof India to chase it back into the US courts in order to compel it to obey those orders. refused to Predictably. high courtin effect to obey the orderyetagain.arguinginsteadthatthreeemployeescaused the disasterthrough behavior. Fromthe beginning. (In fact. or workers.thiswas a keyelementin the Carbide strategy: followedby asbestos to outlastthe victims.Union Carbide followeda similar tactic in the 1930s in the Hawk's Nest tragedy.which has been industrial disasterin the UnitedStates. In any event. This appeals process used up more than a year of additional time.21 on Mon.It was.by refusingto obey Indian court orders.This is the same strategy . interim orderedUnion Carbide to pay substantive Carbide the court's interimrelief order. This content downloaded from 203.the sabotage theorywas admirable.therebyusing up large additional chunksof time. in fact. for it enabled Carbide's management to argue that it was not the victimizer butthevictim.a lesson not manufacturers and insurance companies since the 1950s wasted on Union Carbide.although it claims to know who he is. Carbide was able to threaten at every turn in the Indian courts that its due process rightswere being violated and that. appealing thistimeto the Indian Supreme Court.33 negligent But as a public relations ploy. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . reliefof $270 million.243. All too frequently.31 Thus.It has neveridentified that employee.the appeal of the lower court orders on payment reliefthatthe supremecourtwas hearingwhen it "ordered" of interim the February1989settlement. obey It appealed that order to the Madhya Pradesh High Court. its Indian subsidiaryhas now admittedthat the sabotage theorywas false.)32 characterizedas the worst The Bhopal DistrictCourt. This tacticis notunknownamongcorporations or governmentagencies engaging in reckless behavior that causes the blame is laid on a worker widespread harm.When the the companyrefused upheld the lowercourtruling.110. as Carbide continuesto do in thiscase.

of to meet the needs let alone victims. by A. profits $662 The PlightoftheVictims Not onlyare gas-exposed victims to die at a rapid rate. existing. inadequate in It is trivial to or court awards other settlements compared major industrial disasters. of $470 millionoffered to morethan 600. apparent management thatitsstrategy and thatthe of containment had worked satisfaction. Comparethe figure in the Bhopal tragedy claimants withthe $2. appears effectively 1991 reinstated for thecriminal bytheOctober supreme charges except court decision. With thatpossibleexception.a yearin which in 1988 a 43 centpersharecharge dividends against Carbidehad record of million. to studies conducted by the according Indian Councilof MedicalResearch(ICMR).00 a share! All of the amountexcept and small some$20 million wascovered insurance byCarbide's liability amounts it had set aside each yearwhilethe litigation on. given the huge numberof dead and injured. theupholding anyfurther legal actionin theIndianor US courts to be foreclosed. continuing but morbidity ratesare rising. Carbideappearsto have forthe world's worstindustrial evaded its responsibility effectively As we have seen. adverse on thecompany's settlement would haveno significantly impact finances. Robinsto settle claims to DalkonShieldinjuries 195. the amountof the settlement is totally disaster.34 dragged to with able The company's was thus announce.It is yetanothermeasureof the effects ofUnionCarbide's behavior inthis disaster that thecompany immorality shouldhavebeen usingsucha deadlychemical forwhich thehuman This content downloaded from 203.21 on Mon.Ward Morehouse 487 Bhopaland Corporate Irresponsibility With oftheFebruary 1989settlement. in relation is theamount oftheFebruary settlement howtrivial Just to Carbide's resources and capacity in thereaction to payis reflected oftheNewYork wasannounced. The medicalevidence accumulates on theincreasingly and multiple health serious long-term of MIC on humanbeings.243.000 injury Corporation Johns by exposureto asbestos(an amountmanythinkto be far shortof the$2. Stock thedaythesettlement Exchange Carbide'sstockpricerose $2.48 billionfundcreated thatneededto help future victims).000 relating tobe farbelowneededamounts). future. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .35 The remaining cost of the settlement was in factmetby .5 billionoffered by the Manville for some claims of caused 60.000.110. H. orthe$108million (likewise thought the MonsantoCompany was orderedto pay the family of a single chemical worker whodiedofleukemia due tobenzeneexposure.

Recurrent respiratoryinfections afflict 73 percent.21 on Mon."then surely Union Carbide's behavior towardthe Bhopal victims was and is immoral. exposureto thegas from plant during and rightafterthe disaster. in whichtheplantwas located. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .and very few have any other less physically demanding alternative.morbidity to more than 30 percent in November 1989-March 1990.but suffice government. According to the ICMR increased from15 percent in May-November1987 studies.cases ofblindnessfrom theCarbide few. is behavior that "conformsto rightideals or principlesof human conduct.37 the community If morality.243.At least that is the situationif we are to toxicity believe Carbide. as specified in its dictionarydefinition. spleen.almost a decade later there is a farhigherincidence of cataractsthan in a comparable population. such symptoms were foundin only2 percentof the population. whichescaped from the Carbide plant on thatfateful adverse nightin December 1984.110.chest pains plague 42 percent.000 and 600. As if having to cope with the immoralbehavior of Union Carbide were not enough. populationused in theICMR studies. One studyindicatesthat98 percent of the gas-exposed population (whichitselfnumbersbetween 500.This is a particularly criticalimpairment fora universe of individuals who earned meager wages primarilythrough hard physicallabor. There is also widespread evidence of damage to women'sreproductive organs. At least as dismayingas the foregoingare overall morbidity trends among the gas-affectedpeople of Bhopal. And althoughtherewere ifany. these trulyinnocent victimshave had to deal as well withbehavior thatis qualitatively no betterat the hands of local That storyis beyond the scope of this paper. and kidneyshave also shown adverse effects. which keeps insistingthat it has released all of the information it has on the toxiceffects of MIC. Bycontrast.have had a particularly effect on the lungs of the victims. Yet other adverse effectsof the gases to which the people of Bhopal were exposed are a miscarriagerate more than twicethatof a control population of comparable socioeconomic status and a much higher rate of stillbirths.488 The Ethics ina Transnational Industrial Disasters World of is simplyunknown. The liver. and 24 percent of the gasaffected population have Reactive Airway Dysfunction Syndrome in thecontrol (RADS).36 MIC and itsreactionproducts. Many of them are no longer able to do the workthey did before the disaster. This content downloaded from 203. All of this miseryhas been visited on persons whose sin was to live downwind of a pesticideplantthatwas designed and operatedbyan irresponsible drivenby the imperative to maximizeprofits and corporateenterprise minimize losses at the expense of the well-being. But the lungs are not the onlyvitalorgan affected.000) was found to be having difficult or labored respiration afterexertion. of indeed survival.

Indeed. with the enormity commensurate becameconsumed who dealtwith theBhopal tragedy itstop officials to whileit sought due processrights the company's withdefending the of as would be as that settlement a protective possible negotiate and itsshareholders. relief. leadership By far the mostvigorous of victims women the come from has Bhopal.ifDan Kurzman's journalistic wentto Anderson Warren be at face is to taken value. by corruption. catastrophe moved the after disaster. in this continuing disabilities. This content downloaded from 203. of claims for personalinjuriesor and the reviewand processing have been characterized the gas-leak disaster economiclosses from of the fundamental abuse and rights bribery.(Of course.38 their context (inthis byhaving thatsuchrevictimization of thisdisaster to thevictims appearsto be disasters. and chief executive chairman successor as Anderson's Warren Kennedy. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . ofthecompany interests withRobert based on a briefpersonalencounter My impression.110.21 on Mon.40 sense of compassionmay have animatedWarren But whatever soon took realities harsher to thedisaster. apathy. Virtually industrial worst the world's for "moral it accepted responsibility" oftheBhopal account disaster. Rebuffed early a scale on and claims for with confronted suffering pain.39 struggle Institution in an Immoral "MoralResponsibility that Union Carbideinsisted from the timeof the disaster. humanrights in international recognized Union in thefirst instance were violated humanrights Carbide. by a sense genuinely Bhopal immediately as much as a desire to and of compassion help possibleas provide thathis company the vast to alleviate as possible suffering quickly ill-fated had causedin that city. injury.Ward Morehouse 489 of interim health-care itto saythattheadministration services.) by of an As the People'sUnion forCivil Libertiessaid in a report "antiPradesh the into government's Madhya investigation had been "revictimized" in 1990-1991. Union Carbideand of the disaster. industrial of other victims common large-scale among quite it is to thissad tale of immorality. and as of India's citizensas set forthin the Indian constitution thevictims' law. initial Anderson's response and a settlement arrive at to efforts in its command. feature If thereis anyredeeming to and to resist of someof thevictims the determination oppression in spite of their continueto demandjustice and accountability. at the 1988Carbideannual meeting Connecticut. thevictims drive" encroachment Itis noconsolation housesdemolished). retired officer ofUnionCarbide(Anderson is that in Danbury. in 1986at the age of 65).243.

and Indian government officials. Carbide's perceptionsofthevalue of human life in India.and the cost of dealing with these phenomena. on the other hand. and by Wil Lepkowski. forthcoming and itsrole in Bhopal Lepkowskisums up Carbide's perceptionof itself in these words: A compassionate victimized ata plant company. But nowherehave I been able to discern in the company'scalculus a recognitionof the victims' demand formeaningful on the part of those who have accountability theirlives and caused themsuch anguish.which. byemployee sabotage it did notcontrol milesaway. There remains a vast gulf between.Had theybeen genuinely and made trulydisinterested offersof help on a scale forthcoming to themagnitudeofthedisaster. wouldalmostcertainly appropriate they have been confronted with suits by shareholdersseeking to hold the management accountable for mishandlingcompany funds. and the matterclosed. are the collectiveproperty of the shareholders.An effort to describe this social realityhas been made by Dan Kurzman in his book.on theone hand. carries the storyonly up until late 1986.however.whatevermay have been Anderson'sinitialimpulses.21 on Mon.110.490 The Ethics Industrial Disasters ina Transnational World of the Carbide senior management saw the problem by that time as essentiallya commercialtransactionin which a price was negotiated.To the extent that such circumstanceseffectively constrain the actions of senior officials of large corporationsin dealing withmass industrial the assertionthatthese institutions behave immorally toward disasters. theirvictims becomes all the more apparent. the extent of death and personal injury. and.at least theoretically.in various articles in thatjournal as well as in a chapter in a book being edited by Sheila Jasanofat Cornell University. which. agreedto a $470million farin excessoftheactualneedsofvictims. the price then paid.the companymanagementhad no alternative but to behave in this manner. destroyed In fact. some observers of the behavior of large industrial corporationssuch as Union Carbide would argue that.000 tobring succor andjustcompensation tothevictims ofBhopal possible at to be Indian and activist only hampered every pointby politics thatfinally a company settlement assaults.243.senior editor of the Chemical and Engineering News.42 for Lepkowskihas thisto say about Carbide's "moral responsibility" This content downloaded from 203. voluntary groupsworking the victims. the with expectationsof the victimsthemselves.a company thatdid everything 10. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .41 Carbide's problems in coping with the Bhopal disaster appear to have been compounded by the company's own internal culture.

which it transmuted into "a sense of self righteousness": even Carbide becamemoralistic. during Club and laterin his office.WardMorehouse 491 the Bhopal tragedy.21 on Mon."44 This matchesmyown experience in dealing withCarbide. to continuing at Bhopal. we describe several instances recordover three-quarters of a century. One such incident by is not suspected but known to have occurred: an effort by a member of Union Carbide's board of directors to persuade RobertAbrams. ofsuspectedattempts Carbide to muzzle itscritics. Abuseof by vice-president whichdetails Carbide's sordid health. that atonement church was India and a former elder.To Carbide. Presbyterian which Carbidenever intended to admit. That memorandum describedCCHW as "one ofthe mostradical coalitionsoperatingunder banner" with"tiesintolabor.thecommunist theenvironmentalist party. not to appear at a news conference in New YorkCityin April 1989witha delegationof Bhopal victims touring the United States to protestthe February 1989 settlementbetween of India. implied Reflectiveof this corporate culture and the paranoid behavior it engenders is the celebrated case of the internal Carbide memo on an environmental activist organization known as the Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste (CCHW). for ongoing tragedy. Carbide's chief book. close-minded aboutBhopal. of its moral but an uncreative. and environmental Power.to evadethefuller away been the that moral responsibility could have implies.43 guilt. Instead ofbeing morally responsible.Bhopal innovation: to display for UnionCarbide legaland moral opportunity A disaster one company decided not to turnits back on. responsibility at Washington's In the summer a longinterview of 1989.110.45 Carbide and the government Carbide's angry denunciation of Abuseof Poweris itselfa further on the book distributed at Carbide's 1990 case in point.243. thesettlement wasa closure from atonement that allowed ittowalk India. Carbideboreanylongterm responsibility in a World driver The answer WarII ambulance givenbyWishart. way notarizing what was(and is) a unique. and all mannerof folkwithprivate/single agendas. I asked RonaldWishart Metropolitan timesafter involvedat different [a Union Carbide vice-president relations and publicrelations] whether Bhopal in US government to atonement forBhopal.The statement annual meetingasserts: This content downloaded from 203. Instead. it negotiated notcommitment stewardship even antiquarian.New York State attorneygeneral.safety. including in mypresence uttered red-baiting epithetsof "ideological extremism" In our and counsel. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .

.UnionCarbide of goesfor inprotecting ispictured as callously uninterested its thepublic workers. Carbide's calculations of the value of life in India. no lessa position. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . industrial disaster out-of-court with the Indian government This content downloaded from 203.21 on Mon. Wesee no evilin providing Itis regrettable jobs.47 But Carbide's behavior has not been much different towardvictims of its industrialdisastersin the United States.for example. grim precedent of The case was settled out-of-court at about 3 percent ($130. The company statement then goes on to imputeto us as authorsthe mostevil of ideological heresiesby concluding: Whatreallyseemsto be the aim of the book is the dissolution of US corporations withaffiliates and subsidiaries aroundthe globe. and their be divided between theclaimants attorneys.243. in theworld's claims UnionCarbidesettled worst In February 1989. (generally and compare it with Carbide's response in Bhopal. .. oneswith anyaccurate figures from 65 the President of Rinehart & Dennis) (the range given by figure to 2. even though the twodisastersare separated by half a century: from theplaintiffs' UnionCarbideobtained to all documents rights as partoftheout-of-court settlement attorneys including agreement.from Bhopal's sisterplant in Institute. Consider. Union that Carbide Wereject charge categorically.products thatdiatribes suchas Abuse Power seek to evil of impute to our free world economic system.46 of the situationis significant The issue of the transnational character for our hypothesis.000) and thatmeageramounthad to the $4 millionoriginally sought.000 (an opinion givenby SenatorHolt at the Congressional in 1936). Hearings a The settlement forthe Hawk'sNesttunnel workers constituted for Carbide's behavior in awful an even more disaster. anotherfirst forCarbide considered the worst in industrial disaster the United States).492 The EthicsofIndustrialDisastersin a Transnational World So it[the bookAbuse Power] pageafter page. ortheenvironment. They are stillthe only on the number figures Estimates on thedeathtollofworkers. itsresponse in the Hawk'sNesttunneldisaster. We also know.We do know that the safetysystemsat Carbide's Bhopal plant (let alone the manner in which the plant was operated. and services. of men who died. that they put a muchlowerpricetag on lives in India than those in the UnitedStates.110. is a leaderin itssafety and environmental We can accept programs. withthe apparent knowledgeand implicitapproval of the US parent company) were substantiallyinferiorto correspondingfacilities in West Virginia.

workers wouldbe buriedjust hoursafter Sometimes In most so that an autopsy couldnotbe performed." In this passage made and elsewherein our chapteron Hawk'sNest. theirdeath.In one of several false or distorted about the contentof our book.thecompany their of thevictims whodied awaiting untilitwas too late formany in both instances. that workers as a reminder havedied in vain. twicethe normalrate.49 in a documented has been meticulously published subsequently of the Hawk's Nest disasterin our book AbuseofPower Our treatment drewCarbide's ire. paid HadleyWhite.One blackwoman pneumonia his death.Ward Morehouse 493 ofwhat a fraction for$470million. intosettling sums.110.had his body husbandwas buried just a fewhoursafter on topofhim. showingthat. cases. much of the storyof that grim tragedyhas been pieced togetherby and Martin Cherniack in a doctoral dissertationat Yale University book. presumably whose wascitedas thecause ofdeath. victims for trivial theremaining blackmailed Many victims atHawk's Nestand atBhopal ofthenamesofUnionCarbide's shall not and thoughit is hoped that"they will neverbe known.243.even aftermore than half a century. on hisfarm.presented in Carbide's statementas . allegations feelingsof guiltpersist. bythegovernment sought healthneeds.we describe efforts This content downloaded from 203.50 certainly way Drawingupon congressionalhearingsinto the incidentin 1936 and whatwe actuallysaid was: a 1975articlein The Washington Monthly. outlitigation wasabletodrag AsintheHawk's Nest cases.muchless provide to coverthevictims' compensation. thatthe company admitted The undertaker.48 irresponsible In spite of Carbide's efforts to cover up the Hawk's Nest disaster. no mass There were to silicosis. menstacked other Therewerethree exhumed."thecompany persists of such at the hands be continue to and communities may exploited corporations.Carbide stated: "errors" on a tunneling forworker The authors claimthatdisregard safety deathsfrom in in to so the 1930's led West many Virginia project silicosisthattheywere buried in mass graves. Carbideeffectively "day in court.21 on Mon. graves."Apparently. theBhopalvictims representing and notenough wasoriginally ($3 billion).51 buried 33 persons The reader will find no referenceto "mass graves.but said he had only him $55 per person. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .000peopleover that actually employed company in some Therewere19 deathsattributed the length of the project.The construction didthework some5.

243.982accidents do notwork. Remedies forand Preventionof Immoral Behavior needed to testthe to thispointis all thatis really The presentation that ofthispaper central (and largeindustrial corporations hypothesis such as government doubtless otherlarge institutions bodies) treat and victims of industrial disasters despitetheirrhetoric immorally. comprehensive clearand ofhazardous and environmental evaluation health products.500. deathsattributed (as it figure of this have records that almost is).494 World ina Transnational Disasters TheEthics ofIndustrial or to coverup silicosisas the real cause of death. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . where absolute or include strict especially liability legal strategies for multinational facilities are involved.110.On onefactual forerunner numbered around force on the tunnel work that thetotal 5. moral But anyonewhose evasiveactionsto the contrary.accidents more than135peopleand injured killed that nearly Agency l.52 and measures thatwouldhelp assuregreater accountability Among aresuchinitiatives diminish theintensity behavior ofimmoral perhaps and community hazard indemnity as worker funds.withpneumonia witnesses and medical doctors cited often tuberculosis being bycompany a figure ofnineteen ThatCarbideasserted bythecompany. employed even if it is an incorrect to silicosis. enhanceaccountability toutedby Carbide and other (presently self-regulation Industry manufacturers totheBhopal US chemical as industry's response leading thusfarto be no morethan in the form of whatis proving disaster of Care Program a publicrelations ployknownas the Responsible and government Manufacturer's theChemical Association) regulation If they wouldnot have been 6. did.21 on Mon. suggests they tragic kept certainly andwedo agree matter Carbide ofBhopal.000 project persons. communities workers and for enforceable surrounding rights readily on in those to know facilities whatis really industrial hazardous going down the of the extent to facilities and to act(even operation shutting if theyare being run in a carelessand negligent of such facilities Other forcorporate sanctions and criminal accountability. hazardous enterprise liability This content downloaded from 203.there of industrial releasesbeyond the perimeters toxicchemical involving overa fiveplantsin the UnitedStatesalone thatweredocumented Protection forthe US Environmental yearperiod in a recentstudy . indignation willwantto consider tale of immorality is arousedby thisshameful behaviorso as to whether thereare anywaysof changing corporate to their victims. manner).

judge in Bhopal."has never oftheIndiancourts. of UnionCarbide. it can be said thatthe basic humanrights of hundreds of millions are adequately ofpeoplein theworld and violators ofthose protected and punished. hissuperior. chairman and chief executive Robert the current Kennedy. Goeghan. at Carbide'sannual meeting Carbidespecifically to thejurisdiction ofthecourts agreed"to submit This content downloaded from 203. in his taken earlyretirement. at are least multinational (MNCs) fully coequal to nationcorporations in statesin powerand resources. forum for the transboundary involving litigation judicial and couldincludepubliceducation campaigns strategies Extra-legal of or even direct as when the residents consumer action. with disgusted politicalinterference involved of another celebrated case that by allegedbribery handling the Swedisharmsmanufacturer Boforsat the highest levelsof the The trialhas been reassigned Indiangovernment. rights promptly meaningfully is the task of establishing using accountability Justhow difficult mechanisms intheonly is reflected existing remaining hopetheBhopal to victims have of some smallmeasureofjusticeand accountability UnionCarbideforall of the pain and suffering Carbidehas caused them. Union Carbideinsists thatit. boycotts. officer in April1992. BureauofInvestigation. by Supreme upheld that never shouldhave financial theunjust 1989 settlement February . and ground rulesthat theactsofsubsidiaries specify events. vice-president general JosephE. But Madhavanhas since weremoving forward withdetermination.21 on Mon. products standards as national human tothesameinternational be subject rights a we have before to travel vast distance clearly although governments. WajahatAli Shah.pleabargaining beenquashedinthefirst Indiancriminal under place law is not permitted forseriouschargessuch as culpablehomicide. ChiefMagistrate Gulab Sharma. it is in theUnited eventhough A courageous States."54 criminal law to submit to the agreed jurisdiction Thatstatement is factually as I pointed outto Goeghanand incorrect. fifteen (The largestcorporations thanthe grossdomestic theworldtodayhave grossincomesgreater MNCs should of morethan 120 countries!) At a minimum. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .110. to another Bhopal Sessions Courtjudge.Ward Morehouse 495 andjointventures.243.This hope involves the criminal chargesthatwerereinstated in the Indian Court its October 1991 which decision. in Delhi.Madhavan. and the outlookis again uncertain. new chemical in Thailandburnedand effectively a Phuket destroyed Bank their entreaties to theWorld plantaboutto open after repeated and otheragenciesto keep the plantout of theircommunity were that the time has come to We also argue recognizethat ignored.53 In the meantime.and a resolute prosecutor in India'sCentral a jointdirector K.in the wordsof its and counsel.

Reciprocity is a basic can try Manuel law. of behavior corporate of these disastersexhibittowardthem. the US government arrestedhim in (In Noriega's case. notes is partof the settlement that"the criminaltrialrestitution additionally You can't and aside all the others. morevictims fees before there is even a possibilitythat Carbide mightbe held accountable foritsrole in thistragicindustrialdisaster.almost certainly compellingthe Indian prosecution to chase themback into the US courtsin orderto get themto submit if indeed the US courts will order them to do so.55 in raisingsuch a question.it is clear that Carbide intendsto take a hard line on criminalcharges. its Indian subsidiary. furthermore.496 The Ethics ina Transnational Industrial Disasters World of of India" in the May 12.1984.when. in which he asserted that US corporations and their officialsare never subject to the criminaljurisdiction of other countries under "internationallaw" and that the only courts whose criminaljurisdiction he would recognize were US courts.(Some victimsand theirsurvivors This content downloaded from 203.243.If theUS government principleunderinternational Noriega in a criminalcourt in the United States for actions taken on to see why WarrenAnderson and Union foreignsoil. Of course. Carbide was aware that criminal charges were involved Furthermore. The reader will note that there was no limitationin that agreement to civil law jurisdiction. and more lawyers will earn huge yearswill pass.) My colleague. portion Nonetheless.110.21 on Mon.Warren Andersonwas presentedwitha listof the charges being made against Carbide. Goeghan's answer is. Thus additional will die. it is difficult Carbide (corporations are considered legal persons under US law) cannot be tried in India on criminal charges of culpable homicide. India thus far has talked only about initiating extradition proceedings to getWarrenAndersonto come to India. presidentof the Center for Law and Development and an international human rights lawyer. thattheyare almostall poor and therefore It appears thatthesocioeconomicstatusofvictims disasters ofindustrial has a bearing on the degree.I was treated For mytroubles to an indigant lectureby Goeghan. in which Keenan granted Carbide's motion fordismissal of the litigationagainst it fordamages in US courtsand its transfer back to India.accordingto Dan Kurzman. as earlyas December 7. of course."56 take one leave package. and officials of both companies (includingAndersonhimself). wrongon several counts. Keenan in the Federal DistrictCourt in New York. decision of JudgeJohn F. the problemsof the Bhopal victimsare compounded by the circumstance voiceless. if not the kind. Clarence Dias. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1986.Only a few of the perpetrators survivors of Bhopal victimshave received even meager compensation fromthe Carbide settlement money. Panama and broughthim forcibly to the United States to stand trial.

through This content downloaded from 203. thecase ofcivildamages Carbideifa trial against mobilization But grass-roots and are onlya organization political of the the foundation on albeit which all else rests.Ward Morehouse 497 for thelastthree havebeen receiving "interim evenmore years meager from relief of Rs. although hardly the concentration to overcome of corporate and government power withwhichtheywere confronted.norwilllimitations actions? There is no singleanswer. Bhopal tragedy provides of thisproposition. sector. as thevictims. 1984. again. 200. wereruthlessly attacked women. how do we make them truly agencies) behave ethically.21 on Mon. especially Butnonetheless occasionalresults ofwhich wereachieved. a full-blown to this me to articulate question. Nonetheless.57 (aboutUS$35. in earlier the India's within especially stages. especially voluntary and Action. part challenge. groups had been held. by originally victim before which wouldhavetried theBhopalDistrict Court. Butat leastsomebasiccontours response mustbegin with The struggle for real corporateaccountability of for and communities risk bearers workers empowerment example.And to this day. at different times.110. of theJune23. grassroots. byfarthe advanced as a demand mostnotableis interim relief. links in of such mobilization are Critically important support solidarity is and Here the case nationally internationally. response space permit ofthat can be sketched.000 rates) exchange Toward a New Ethics and Politics of Corporate Accountability worst industrial The larger question posed bythissaga of theworld's disaster is howwe go aboutmaking multinational (and corporations other large institutions such as governments and international that is.Air India crash off victims or so middle-class with ofnearly were thecoastofIreland compensation speedily provided at current Rs. Bhopal support groups in Delhi. Union Carbide hazardous facilities like the plant in surrounding at the and that means effective mobilization political Bhopal of some measure the Indeed.and morerecently out of interest on the Carbide hundred ofall ofthethree settlement therelatives money.243. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . affected accountable to thosewhose livesare mostdirectly by their of of course.or aboutUS$7 a month. Bhopal were able it can these links be said that instructive. bythepolice. initially government of India funds. 1 million each.) Bycontrast.played an important as does. part.the Bhopal Group for Information international linkshave been cultivated a variety of means. of the The littlepositive affirmation treatment the victims thathas occurred has comeaboutalmost entirely through in of victims which at times became disorderly engaging politics protest.

based network victims.21 on Mon.and of workers in The final session of the Tribunal on Industrial hazardous industries.60 directly The real challenge lies in developingeffective techniques to assure that these standards are actually met.which is scheduled into a single forLondon in late 1994.the International investigation in Bhopal. Communities Concerned About Corporations. typically that the over increasingly sovereignty" huge global corporations dominatethe global politicaleconomy.Some verytentative steps were made at the recent World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna toward an international criminal court. ofworkers. in formulating new But we need to look beyond this kind of effort standards of ethical behavior and creatinginstitutional mechanisms that will assure that these standards are observed and provide for is the easy part.of communities."59 a similar vein.will seek to codifythese charters instrumenton rights of victims. that held to account. a network Coalition for ofseven organizationsaround Justice theworldcampaigningin supportofthe demands oftheBhopal victims for justice and accountability.but we must keep beforeus thathomelywisdomthata journey of a thousand miles begins with a but single step. and EnvironmentalHazards and Human Rights.a USand religiousinvestors. which sent a trade union delegation to Bhopal in 1985 to conduct their own of the disaster. forexample. gathering Robert which has led in priorities" large-scale developmentprojects.and. insist that to Goodland of the WorldBank's Environment Department In "selection of any but the least damaging project is unethical.and workersand of governments and corporations.498 The Ethics ina Transnational World Industrial Disasters of such as the International Secretariatsof Trade Unions. until the present.243.thearticulation of"ethical Consider. We should and meaningfully violatorsare promptly have no illusions that this challenge will be met easily. And there are some of those "single in theform ofcampaignstore-assert "people's steps"occurring. communities.and a significant punitiveaction. and when they are not.110.of communities."especially is striving to in the petrochemicalindustry. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . of human rights This content downloaded from 203.whichhas led to the formulation charters of rights of victims.The standardssetting beginning has been made throughthe workof three sessions of the of three PermanentPeople's Tribunal. to formulatestandards of "ethical production. as one element in a larger strategy curb corporate power and make it more accountable to those most affected bywhatcorporationsdo. whereas others have been crimes and an arguingfor an internationalcourt for environmental of regional courts)to whichvictims internationalcourt (and a system violationscould appeal directly.58 responsibilities Parallel efforts to formulatestandardsof ethical behavior are also momentum.

is to address ofcorporateenterprises whenthey theimmorality injureor killinnocent victimsat a still more fundamentallevel. is throughthe corporatecharters. Among those engaged in activistand environmental this task is RichardGrossman. resource and technology. Yet another approach. use. at least in the United States. production. This content downloaded from 203.Ward Morehouse 499 In the meantime. constructed.present alternativemechanisms for those who are to presenttheircases. of the He has argued that we must reassertthe sovereignty At Work.The instrument investment. of everycorporation that thatelectedofficials revokethe charter Ifourelected fails toagreeinwriting toourstandards.21 on Mon. bylisting we can insist willallowto be issued. with these and intentionallymoney niggling well-guarded. moral behavior is heavilyinfluenced by the Ultimately. in the United States. we can vote themout of officeor petition In thefuture. anyonewhowants withtheir states must first cometo thepeople directly plan forthe of work.were seen as licenses which. to do businessin our recallthem.sum up theirargument Grossmanand his fellowworker.110. purpose.a long-time entitledFear authorof a classic workon job blackmail in US industry. he believes.which oftheGroupofSeven majorindustrialized issued an indictment recently nations in Tokyo.Then. FrankAdams.citizen tribunalssuch as the PermanentPeople's Tribunal or the International People's Tribunal on the G-7.61 ofimmoral behaviorbylarge institutions victims in thisdirectionis the campaign now being Yetanothersmall initiative once again undertake launched to insistthattheUnitedNations system multinational of of the behavior monitoring corporations but in a manner much more effective than the work of its Centre for TransnationalCorporationsin the past.243. representatives to will not cooperate. meticulously ofcorporate andtheEarth when weletthevery realmonster ourselves of active law block our paths? Don't we demean the tradition be our Wouldn't it when we liberating away? citizenship give rights ourcivic and exhilarating to reclaim rights? forcharters we the criteria We can start.62 therights ofworkers of course. forachievingthis goal. Today. products along organization with and communities.namely decisions on exclusive domain of corporatedecisionmaking and the organizationof work. stateby state. energy Don't we harm insulatedcorporations.armedwith our criteria." people . fallen into the has which over "social increasingly property. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . in these words: ifwe haven't we need to ask one another spentenoughtime.at least historically of people for some identifiablepublic the state on behalf given by This means challengingcorporate power at its vital center.

in the world's different worstindustrialdisaster as well as hundreds of others all over the overthepastcentury worldthathave occurredwithdismaying regularity So until we reach a Utopian stage of human evolution in or more. of people againstpower of Czech authorMilan Kundera: "The struggle of memory is a struggle againstforgetting. 24-25. 25. Findings October 19-24.1959)." The Hindu. Second edition (Springfield. note 5.January1. chapter10. A senior UNICEF following immediately conditions in Bhopal shortlyafterthe official.: G & C Merriam. The remainder of this section is adapted from David Dembo. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . One method of estimating deaths is based on the number of death shrouds sold in Bhopal in the days the catastrophe(7. Abuse of Power: Social Performance of TheCase ofUnionCarbide Multinational (New York:New Horizons Corporations: Press.July1985). Ibid.000by one count). Based on testimony presented to the Permanent People's Tribunal on Industrial and EnvironmentalHazards and Human Rights. of the Bhopal disaster is adapted from Ward Morehouse and M.500 World The EthicsofIndustrialDisastersin a Transnational and social relationships. Morehouse and Subramaniam. 2-3. 4. "Furor Over Selling of Lives Cheap. 6."Frontline 5. Bhopal and Bombay.See also the reportof the Independent Commission on the Narmada Projectby BradfordMorse and Thomas Berger(Washington. The Trade UnionReporton Bhopal (Geneva and Brussels: International ofFree Trade Unions and InternationalFederationofChemical. PermanentPeople's Tribunal on Industrialand EnvironmentalHazards Third andJudgements: and Human Rights. Ward Morehouse.pp.110. The victims We mustnot either.000.21 on Mon. See also Ward Morehouse. Dictionary definitions Dictionary. D.. April 1991. February 26. The Bhopal Tragedy: and Communities at Risk(NewYork:Council on International Workers forAmerican and Public Affairs.63 which power is less heavily concentratedin the hands of corporate of industrialdisasters."64 of the world'sworstindustrialdisastercan neverforget.: WorldBank. distribution of power in human institutions to bring about an outcome And this is preciselywhy it is so difficult fromthatwhichhas occurred. This section on the Genesis Energy. p.slightly and powerfulinstitutions paraphrased. Arun WhatReallyHappenedand WhatIt Means Subramaniam. 2. 1992).commented that many doctors and other health officialsprivately reportedto him thattheybelieved the death tollwas around 10.at least thus far. 3. People's Tribunal. 1986).aftera week of investigating disaster. Notes NewInternational are takenfromWebster's 1. "Bittersweet Justice:Permanent (Madras).Yale University Law School. Confederation and General Workers' Unions. Session.1992. and Lucinda Wykle.243.1993. For a perceptiveexamination of the tragedyand the This content downloaded from 203. 1990). Mass. pp.we must be prepared and other perpetrators to continue resistance against the immoral behavior of these large and ponder the words.C. 1989.

1985. A.1985."Exposure 24. Kail.. ManualPartI: Methyl Unit. News. BhopalTragedy.BhopalPlant."Praful Bidwai."Times 28.Ibid. MDL626. J. UnionCarbide. 12. 20. Chemistry February p. Alternatives 7. 9.. on Bhopal. June13.1987. Salmon."Chemical and Engineering News. This content downloaded from 203. "Effects of Methyl Anderson. ofthedisaster Detailed accounts in a number aregiven itself Morehouse andSubramaniam. January District ofNewYork.report 10. KerrMuir. "Methyl Isocyanate: India Chemical andEngineering Effects. Catastrophe M. (December and C. 3. Anderson. 9. Ibid." British Medicine Industrial Isocyanate Journal of 45(1988): WilLepkowski. "The flaretower buta smallquantity handleanything of MIC suchas perhapsa fewhundred "PlantDesign BadlyFlawed. atU.Affidavit. 81. US District Southern 24.Ward Morehouse 501 it generated. Isocyanate Operating 1978.21 on Mon.p.. and Subramaniam." Alternatives see ShivVisvanathan." Journal. January "UnionCarbideMovedtoBarAccident andRonWinslow. Safety and UnionCarbide. p. 9.B. S. S. is not designedto 11. 1984. G. See discussion note on siting ofplantin Morehouse 5. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Safety/Health Survey "Operational Plant.note 5. 13. 17. note10."BhopalDisaster: Publishes MedicalData. The TradeUnionReport on Bhopal.1988. NewYork Times. EdwardMunoz. UnionCarbide. 21."Survey dates:July date: September 13." News. McGraw-Hill. (NewYork: 1987). ofIndia 1984).J. PlantBefore Wall Street 28.Paulson. The TradeUnionReport on Bhopal. A. UnionCarbideIndia Ltd. 1987. N. May1982. L.UnionCarbide. p." British Journal of IndustrialMedicine45 (1988): 469-475.p..note 5. Tee. Studies Point toSystemic 269-274. Kail.Poulson. MIC UnitInstitute 22. "Operational J. Tyson. The TradeUnionReport 16.and Vijaya XI (1986):133-145. and Tyson. note10.and A. ofIndia. 14. 10. including chapter1 ("WhatHappened at Bhopal") and chapter2 ("The Impactof of a Tragedy. Persistence submitted to the Supreme ofToxins in Bhopal. Diana 18. V Mehra. 15.October A Preliminary from Sadgopal and SujitK Das. 1984. p. 9. The TradeUnionReport on Bhopal. on RatMuscle Cellsin Culture." CO/MIC/Sevin Units.p. See. "Methyl Isocyanate:The of a Hazard."Times litres an hour. and Responseto Methyl Results of a Community Based Survey Isocyanate: Shobha Goyle.According to the plantmanager. including responses of a Disaster.243.110. ofdifferent note5. 1985. "Toxins in Gas Victims' Anil Present Bodies.especially sources." Shankar Varma.p. "Bhopal:The Unfolding Bhopal"). note13. January A KillingWind:InsideUnionCarbide and theBhopal 23. 1984. 1985. 8." Chemical and Engineering November 30. 25. et al. CarbideHad Been Told of Leak Danger. Court. Ibid. Ibid. extracts Report ofConcern Regarding in the BodiesofBhopal Gas Victims. forexample. 9. Dan Kurzman. 8. October 10.p. 11.note 5.Citedin PhilipShabecoff. Survey.note 5. Phillips. the perceptions of thevictims themselves. 32. 9-July "Union and actionplan date: October10. "Bhopal: The Imagination XI (1986):147-165. 19.

502 The EthicsofIndustrialDisastersin a Transnational World Court of India on October 26. Transcript April22. Bhopal Gas Leak: A Review. July27. "In the Shadow of Despair. "Bhopal. "Union Carbide Agrees to SettleAll Bhopal Litigationfor$470 million." Chronicle. 63. Restitution and Rehabilitationof the Bhopal Victims. in a meetingwith representatives victimsin New York on May 6." Chemical Week. "Carbide Comes Up WithNew Theoryin Bhopal Case.and "Immune System New York October 30. "Health Effectsof the e Prevenzione.1988. Martin Cherniack. 36. February22. Union Carbide Annual Report. "A Program for the Compensation." Pioneer. no. Ibid. 1986. Decision on Appela. May 12.p. Keenan.21 on Mon. 34. A conferenceorganized in 1986included WarrenAndersonas one of the speakers.). by the institute of Union Carbide Annual Meeting. 37.' The Illustrated Weekly of and Action. p. n. February15. "BritishTV RevisitsBhopal. 35.p. Industrial 32. 25. Times.: Yale University 33. All medical data on the victimsin this section are drawn from on studies undertakenby the Bhopal Rajiv Lochan's article. US CourtofAppeals forthe Second Circuit. The Hawk's Nest Incident:AmericasWorst Disaster Press. December 24. "Health Damage Due to Bhopal Gas Disaster: Review of Medical Research. 1989." August1988." Chemical and Engineering March3. Joseph Goeghan. 29." WallStreet Journal.243.during the years since the disaster. 1987. 1991. 39. Rajiv Locham. Indian and foreign." December 1985. see Ramana Dhara. (New Haven.1986)."Among News. People s Union forCivilLiberties. 1989. of the victims'plightwas produced as 27. 30.based primarily Gas Disaster Research Centre of the Indian Counsel of Medical Research. see transcriptof that encounter (in typescript)."entitled End. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Compensation Disbursement A Reportof a SurveyConducted and Possibilities: in ThreeGas Affected Problems BastisofBhopal (Bhopal: BGIA. Seriously AffectedMutagenesis Changes Not Ruled Out. 52 (1992). of MIC although several other studies of both the victimsand the toxicology both have been undertakenunder the auspices of otherresearchinstitutions." Economic and PoliticalWeekly. Order of ludtre lohn F. Conn. 49."Epidemiologia on CivilRights:Report 38. 38. May 25. 1987. See also other sections of this BGIA reportfordata on the currentstatusof processingcompensationclaims of the victims.TragedyWithout set up bya faculty member 28. A Killing Wind: Inside Union Carbide and the Bhopal This content downloaded from 203.1993. 1987." Madhya Pradesh FlawsAre Found at Bhopal. February 27.d.January 14. 40. Citizens Commission on Bhopal."MethylIsocyanate Tests: New Evidence ofLastingLung Damage. 26.pp.1988.See also Bhopal Group forInformation Voices From Bhopal (Bhopal: BGIA. 1322information 1323. Claude Alvares.110. One of the betterinvestigations a documentary bythe BritishGranada TV program"Worldin Action. Encroachment of an Investigation into 'Anti-encroachment Drive'" (reproducedas Appendix II in Bhopal Group for Informationand Action. 1986. January1992).Carbide's assertionthatithad released all ofthetoxicological in its possession on MIC was again repeated by itsvice-president and general of the Bhopal counsel. 31. 1985.For a more recent summaryof medical evidence. India. One example is the IndustrialCrisis Institute from theSchool ofManagementat NewYorkUniversity. 1986. 1991. Dan Kurzman.

BehindthePoison Cloud: Union Carbides butmanyotheraspects For numerous intonotonlythelitigation insights in the special issue of the Lokayan see the variousarticles of the disaster. bySheila Jasanof forthcoming manuscript 43. 1987). in March Chemical and as Criminal News. Begin India..1993. on safety systems of Californiaat Pari Shafieri. March 7 and 30.110. note5. 44. (NewDelhi: Penguin Corporate ofa Tragedy Books. 16-17. Bhopal Lessons Books." 53. Keylegal documents have been reproduced in a three-volume different are contained analyzing phases of the litigation Forum and the Indian Law Institute: seriesfrom UpendraBaxi.Morehouse and Wykle. Times. note6. 1993. (NewYork:McGraw-Hill.p. Convenient 1986). pp. 1. on Abuse note46. Larry Everest. Bhopal: Anatomy of Co. 56.andHindustan April .SanjoyHazarika. Publishing (Cambridge. Morehouse and Subramaniam. Ibid. Abuse 48. February April April Times.Paul Killing: BhopalsWillHappen(London: Free Association Mass. other NewTheory. 49. of note32.. note40. Riverside.An Interim of Union CarbideSince Bhopal. Abuse Power. 51. Dembo. Ibid.p.1990). Week. doctoraldissertation. Economic 25 and April 9. 50. 8. note 40.1985." Engineering Proceedings 16. pp. Ibid. for bookedited atCornell University. Abuse ofPower.p. 17.:Ballinger a Crisis Shrivastava. note6. Power. For a morerecentbut highly see the specialissue of Chemical Care Program. chapters Catastrophe especially in the UnitedStatesand India is givenfrom of the Bhopal litigation story of otherbooks. 1/2(1988).1986).1987).Kurzman.Ward Morehouse 503 2 and 3.21 on Mon. July Responsible 1993. 1988).p. on Abuse statement 46. on the value of Indian 1990.TaraJones. 28.Inconvenient TheBhopalCase (Bombay:Tripathi." "The Restructuring 42. lives. of Power. UCC statement Power.1992. nos. Bulletin 6. 1993. 9.note 5. to achievegreater discussion of measures 52.. TheIllustrated 57. note54. TimesofIndia. 111-113. 8. University A KillingWind. 1993.. UnionCarbide of Corporation in Bhopaland 47. p. This content downloaded from 203. See also various in the criminal case againstCarbide on recent newsreports developments and of victim and the adjudication and its officials claims. India. and LethalLitigation: Victims 1986). Upendra Baxi Catastrophe: and Multinational and Thomas Paul." "Bhopal. Mass Disasters Liability:The Bhopal Case Subramaniam.p. TheBhopal Case (Bombay: Tripathi.such as Business PoliticalObserver April 9.BhopalSaga Continues "UnionCarbide 54. 1993." December 1. 3. The 1987). and lengthy introductions 41. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . and Wykle. Valiant (Bombay: Tripathi. 138. Kurzman. Cherniack. Wil Lepkowski. "The Greater Weekly of BhopalTragedy. 1993.243. Institute. "Carbide ComesUp With note33.The remaining is drawn from 13 of Abuse (see note accountability ofPower chapter corporate accountof the biased and pro-industry 6). 45.UpendraBaxi and AmitaDhanda. Dembo. Dembo. of note6. 55. 117. A Killing Wind. See note6.pp. As quotedin WilLepkowski. Claude Alvares.TheHindu. Appraisal. As quotedin Lepkowski.including Morehouse and in a number varying perspectives Massacre Bhopal:The (Chicago:BannerPress. 28-30. Patriot.Morehouse.Morehouse and Wykle. 7-14.

(New York:Knopf. 64.110. and theCorporateCharter.1993.: CharterInk.504 World The EthicsofIndustrialDisastersin a Transnational 58. CommunitiesConcerned About Corporations.21 on Mon. provisionaltext). TakingCare ofBusiness:Citizenship ofIncorporation (Cambridge. Sustainable 59. This content downloaded from 203. bounding Declaration 1993. and Forgrtting.see Rajni Kothari. 1992. Michael HenryHeim. DraftCharterof Rights in Hazardous Industries. But Notthe first:Major IndustrialDisasters b3. "The Worst in Morehouse and Subramaniam. Robert Goodland. April-July. 61. somberassessmentof the struggle 18 (Spring Alternatives "The YawningVacuum: A WorldWithout Alternatives.Indictment (revised 7."paper prepared for International Colloquium on Energy Needs in the Year 2000 and Beyond: Ethical and Environmental Montreal. bO. See appendix 5. 47. For a fullerexplication of Grossman's thinkingon corporate charters as a means of making companies trulyaccountable. July 62." 1993): 119-139.as well as Grossman lettertoJohn Cavanagh at the Institute and theCharter and Adams. see his April 4.May 13-14. and otherpapers on ethical production. International Peoples Tribunal to Judge the G-7.Mass.DraftCharterof Rightsof Workers October 6. 1993)." of people against power.note 5. "Dog Days at Company E Magazine. of PolicyStudies.1981).243. 1993. "Ethical Priorities in Environmentally Energy Systems: The Case of Tropical Hydropower. Richard Grossman and Frank Adams. Perspectives. 8 Apr 2013 10:00:30 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . 1992. of Communities. For a recent and in This Century. DraftCharterof Rightsof Victims. Milan Kundera." Headquarters:BusinessAccountability p.TheBookofLaughter trans. PermanentPeople's Tribunal (Bhopal Session).

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